Philosophy and Celebrity
Wonder Woman’s comic book debut was nothing short of extraordinary. In fact, I was blown away. For someone who hadn’t read comics before, I found myself actually enjoying reading the comic instead of going through the typical, one-dimensional action and drama that most superheroes presented. In fact, I’m writing this right now, after reading the latest Wonder Woman comic book, and I have to say that although there are some fantastic sequences, overall the story drags down a bit.
So what was so fascinating about Wonder Woman? Was it the intriguing characters, all of which featured complex motivations and back stories that lent more depth to their respective personas? Was it the engaging storyline, which kept me reading despite the fact that I’m often tired by the time I’ve finished? Or was it the refreshing change of pace that happens when a comic book is written about a hero that didn’t already have a full slate of comic book adventures? Whatever her original intentions, in March, Wonder Woman left many of us wondering just why any of us would ever want to read a star-studded line-up of celebrities, with hardly any musical reference, a seemingly never-ending list of body parts to show off, and little else to call to our senses other than titillation?
One of the most interesting and poignant moments in the recent Wonder Woman comic book series was introduced when Wonder Woman and the Ancient Oracle fought a giant Thanagarian monster that simply refused to die. The fight climaxed with the Amazon princess breaking free of her magical handcuffs and flying off into the sky, pursued by Professor Rojek and a cadre of soldiers led by General Maxwellus. As if this weren’t exciting enough, the soldiers fired upon the escaping Amazon with automatic rifles (with amazing accuracy, by the way), killing many of the alien invaders. It is at this point that the character of Professor Rojek appears for the first time. For the first time, we get to meet the character who could have been so destructive towards humankind in the first place: a great Greek philosopher, deeply concerned about humanity’s advancement towards a more ideal existence.
In examining the relationship between Wonder Woman and Professor Rojek, it’s interesting to observe how much celebrity culture influences the way in which an author chooses to write. After all, if a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey or Angelina Jolie has a strong opinion about something, then many readers probably feel the same way too. When professors form the basis of a fictional character’s philosophy, it’s not surprising that same celebrity culture which is so fascinated by them may also have a significant influence on how characters are written. As it turns out in the Wonder Woman comics, Professor Rojek is actually a brilliant and charming philosopher, whose ideas are obviously influenced by his background as a celebrity.
The same can be said for Wonder Woman’s own Mother. Even before she was transformed into Wonder Woman, her image as the perfect mother was already being depicted through various media, particularly in the fashion magazines which featured her. It was during the late 1980s that her star rose to popularity thanks to the endorsement of one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses at the time, Madonna. In one scene from the movie itself, it is clear that Madonna is encouraging her daughter to take her mother’s place in the world, and become just as successful.
This is why the character of Professor Rojek is so intriguing. One would be hard pushed to argue that his opinions are far removed from those held by most famous people in pop culture. Just as celebrities are prone to saying controversial things in public, the philosophers of modern civilization are prone to saying things in private. Thus, it can be seen as an irony that one might find philosophy and celebrity so closely intertwined. It’s one of the reasons why Wonder Woman is such a fantastic comic book.